Side project time!
Here’s an official pre-launch unofficial sneak peek at Random Tim Roth. It’s basically going to be a Brain Stretch location for me to experiment with design (and words). The results will be LOL-larious in that they will probably mostly suck. I’m not a designer – I’m a writer by trade – so this is just me making myself uncomfortable and leaving my poor ego open to the crushing anvil of failure.
Why? Because I have declared 2011, Year of the Brain. I want it to operate outside of its comfort zone and go back to a time when art was all I cared about. When I was 16 or 17, I had to make a decision about which direction to go: design or writing (or nursing, but let’s not get into that). I chose writing and I’ve been reasonably successful at that. But why did I feel I had to drop the art/design side of me completely? I use it in my career (design is very much a part of my day-to-day), but I don’t actually MAKE the stuff anymore. I don’t execute it.
This year, it’s about finding ways to get design and art back in my life. Taking my design eye and oiling up my rusty design hands so it can use them. And maybe weave writing into it too in some way? Time to shovel the soul coal.
But to do that, I need a project. Several projects. Weekly projects. Quick and dirty and lesson learning. While I have no doubt I could sit around thinking of weekly design assignments, I know it’s slightly easier to have no choice in the subject. It’s like being handed a brief for adult diapers: if you’re unprepared for it, the direction your mind takes is unexpected.
So that’s what I was looking for. Unexpected briefs. Things that would make my brain stretch. And that’s where Tim Roth came in.
I follow him on Twitter. Yeah, that’s a little ‘fan-girlish’, but I’ve always kinda dug how he just seems to live a little outside the mainstream in his choices. He’s one of the more ‘real live boy’ verified people on Twitter. Anyway, that’s neither here nor there. The point is, he started doing these quick little ‘random’ tweet sessions where he’d throw out a question. Short. Sweet. Gut reaction stuff. Some are funny. Some are serious.
An idea was born.
Each week, I’m taking those Random Tweets and making stuff out of them – not illustrating them, but making stuff inspired by them. There is a time limit, so they’re never fully polished things. You can read more about the project at “Wtf is this shit?” The other thing I want to do with them is show the thought that goes into coming up with the idea in the first place so I can see how my brain wanders about in the landscape of my head.
It’s Year of the Brain people! I should just stop banging on about it and show you.
Here’s the finished piece from the second project (which you can embiggen at the site): “Is coke with your meal really fucking necessary?”
Once again, a personal project rears its ugly head (which reminds me, I better get back on the Speed Poetry Challenge wagon!). This one involved looking at stats from a new passion of mine – cycling.
From the video creator: The Antagonist Movement hosts weekly events in NYC “antagonizing” artists to create – providing a theme, a venue, an audience and a deadline.
This is everything it should be. Such a great idea. And in case you were wondering what the Antagonist Art Movement is, here’s an answer from the site antagovision.com
I think the name says it all. The Antagonist Art Movement. We’re a group of artists in New York City who are trying to push art and ourselves and each other forward. And we share in the belief that art requires a little conflict. It’s like your little brother slapping you in the face then running away. Your mad at him for a second but still love him just the same. Well, not exactly. We want people to be inspired to make art whether or not you think you can. Money and education are unimportant. Just create. It’s as important as breathing to us.
Via Anthony Ferraro‘s vimeo update
Ambition is a torpedo fueled by a ticking clock and the red-lined limits of your ability. This is, and at the same time is not, the 1st deliverable for this challenge. I realized about a week ago that the project I was working on for the first piece would not be ready in time due to my ambition torpedo. And not be ready by a long shot (as a result, it’s now the last deliverable in this series. A thousand pardons and shameful forelock tugging as a back away).
But like any good cooking show, here is one I prepared earlier. It’s the understudy “Bathroom”. Of all the projects I have planned, this is the only one that uses the entire poem, and as a result the least derivative or “inspired by”. And anyone who’s ever sat through any of my presentations will recognize my style. But I’m digging how it takes a flat and lifeless piece of text and gives it a bit of a lift. The biggest challenge was sourcing images. I limited my flickr search to Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License images that could be “remixed” to cover myself for any cropping and changing levels. I’ve reprinted the poem with links to the photos on the words they were used for. Click through to see images in full glory.
“BATHROOM” image credit list.
The jack hammer of the brain on the street
The synapse of the garbage deposit
The pink and grey matter of the doesn’t matter
They all point, lead, stretch, flex
to the same thing.
All results will posted on the front page as they are created, then archived at Challenge central. Keep your brains nimble, kids!
I’m currently reading The War of Art on the recommendation of a co-freelancer I met. It’s a quick read – seriously, I got halfway through riding the subway this morning – and a kind of procrastinatory kick in the pants. ‘Cause guess what, I’m a world-class procrastinator and my novel ain’t writing itself. Sadly. Although, I could look at myself reading this book and say that’s an act of procrastination in itself, but let’s not look at these things too closely.
This particular bit stuck out this morning:
What does Resistance feel like?
First, unhappiness. We feel like hell. A low-grade misery pervades everything. We’re bored, we’re restless. We can’t get no satisfaction. There’s guilt but we can’t put our finger on the source. We want to go back to bed; we want to get up and party. We feel unloved and unlovable. We’re disgusted. We hate our lives. We hate ourselves.
Unalleviated, Resistance mounts to a pitch that becomes unendurable. At this point vices kick in. Dope, adultery, web surfing.
Beyond that, Resistance becomes clinical. Depression, aggression, dysfunction. Then actual crime and physical self-destruction.
Sounds like life, I know. It isn’t. It’s Resistance.
What makes it tricky is that we live in a consumer culture that’s acutely aware of this unhappiness and has mass produced all its profit-seeking artillery to exploit it. By selling us products, a drug, a distraction, John Lennon once wrote:
Well you think you’re so clever
and classless and free
But you’re all fucking peasants
As far as I can see
As artists and professionals is our obligation to enact our own internal revolution, a private insurrection inside our own skulls. In this uprising we free ourselves from the tyranny of advertising, movies, video games, magazines, TV, and MTV by which we have been hypnotized from the cradle. We unplug ourselves from the grid by recognizing that we will never cure our restlessness by contributing our disposable income to the bottom line of Bullshit, Inc., but only by doing our work.
Last week, I made a half-baked decision to declare the Thanksgiving Break (5 days starting Thursday) “Noodle’s Faff Free Festival“. Roughly explained, it is 5 days where all faffing about activities are banned, and writing is mandatory. You will not see me online, you will not see me racking up gamer points on X-box, and I will not see myself sitting in front of the idiot box watching “While you were Sleeping” for the umpteenth time (a phenomenon I have dubbed “Hypno-Bullockism i.e. the inability to resist the Sandra Bullock movies “While you were Sleeping” and “Miss Congeniality”, even though you don’t think they’re particularly good.)
This decision came shortly after receiving this charming DIY postcard from Matt (top flipped for posting purposes, he did design it correctly). I think the cosmos is trying to tell me something about…I dunno. Putting my arse in a seat and writing. What thing are you avoiding by consuming, procrastinating and generally giving in to Resistance?
Just think about that for a minute. A robotic chum seal to get the shark frenzy going. God knows, I wouldn’t want to bob around in the ocean for longer than necessary. Let’s just get the shark death over with.
Robot designs of tomorrow is a new venture by my buddy Charles. In its infancy, I hope he keeps it up. Obviously lots of insanity going on in his brain – he needs to share that with the world.
Keep it up, chazbot!
Oh, God. She’s banging on about notebooks again. Yes, I am, but this one’s a little different. Ladies and gents, I give you The PocketMod. It takes a simple piece of paper and turns it into a notebook of sorts. Launch the little app, and you can create all sorts of the suckers – story boards, music sheets, calendars, organizers, and hello, games! Print, fold and Bob’s your father’s brother.
Of course, I would never recommend anything I had not experienced and tried and wrassled with myself. So here’s one I prepared earlier. I had one issue with the printer not printing all the way to the edge and had to trim it manually with scissors (it throws off your folds otherwise.) The folding itself was simple, as demonstrated in this video. It’s a quick-shot notebook. Easy peasy.
As a side note, there are some great notebook groups on flickr. Check out Moleskinerie to see some of the thoughts and dreams that people are putting to paper in their notebooks.
I went to university in the early, early 90s. It was like an exhilarating poke in the eye for me. Not because I chose a university that was a 9.5 hour drive from home, or because I knew no one there (a common life theme for me), but because it changed the way I thought things were supposed to be. There’s me, straight from the farm and feeling a little, hmm, how should I say this, like there were rules in life. Like you were supposed to do certain things a certain way and that I would probably just finish uni and go home. Go do those things that certain way and be done with it all that ‘life experience’ crap.
But then I started going to see bands, and shows, and live comedy, and it made me see something else. People out there are just out there doing their thing. Because they need to and HAVE to.
One of the most inspiring gigs I went to at that time was Tommy Emmanuel. He takes a guitar and interrogates, berates, loves and caresses it to within an inch of its life – all at the same time. It must be very confusing for the poor thing. So, I got to thinking about him and hunted around YouTube to see what I could find.
I could post a clip of everyone’s favorite, “Classical Gas“, or even the amazing “Day Tripper/Lady Madonna” piece where he plays the melody and the rhythm parts at the same time (watch it, you’ll see what I mean). But instead I have chosen “The Tall Fiddler” below, simply because it makes MY fingers tired just watching it. (And I can’t even use the orange button on Guitar Hero III, but how dare I even compare the two!)
Ah, Tommy. He always looks like he’s having fun. He always just does his thing. I’ve decided that this shall be my mantra, and set about solidifying it in my head the other day by drawing a rather shitty picture of it to stick on my desk as a constant reminder. Don’t stress. Just do your thing.
I knocked this out a couple of weeks ago. The weird thing about this mindmap is that even though nothing really new came out of it, it was the first time I had all the barriers laid down on the same page. It became obvious at the end what I had to do.
And it’s by no means the full story. I gave myself a time limit, so had to put the brakes on. I also broke a few mindmapping rules, but I think the whole point is to be free, so who cares if you make up some of your own?
I recommend doing a mindmap for creative types. It gives your mind something to focus on for a few hours, while also giving you the opportunity to stick your hands in a box of colored pencils again. It had been a while since I’d done that!
- Grab a piece of paper, turn it landscape
- Draw an image in the middle, between 3-5cm
- Use at least three colors to make that image
- Start main branches with different colors and follow a thought out until you reach the end.
- Let thoughts come and don’t judge ‘em. Just write them in there!
- Keep adding branches to the main branch.
- You’re supposed to only write in one word a thought – that’s a rule I broke
- You should also sprinkle icons and graphics throughout to illustrate thoughts
Go nuts and feel free to share.
This year, I set a “do at least one creative thing every day” New Year’s Resolution. Sometimes I’ll crank out a really bad poem, other times a sketch. Last Tuesday, it was a photo. I dig this shot so much I’ve deemed it worthy of a spot on the blog. Believe it or not, I took it with my iPhone.
I just love how it looks in black and white. It looks old, but at the same time, the PSPs in the shot let you know it ain’t.